“Now then”, “Ey Up” in any other part of the country this means nowt to anyone, but in God’s Own Country these are common greetings. But, according to a survey, some aspects of the Yorkshire accent could be wiped out within 45 years. We say to them, have you been to Barnsley, recently?
Researchers from the universities of Portsmouth and Cambridge found that some pronunciations of certain words will merge to suit the south-eastern version over time. Strut and farm are used as examples. They say that typically northerners pronounce “strut” as in “foot” and this will disappear according to the study published in The Journal of Physics: Complexity.
The research showed that words like “bath” on the other hand would never change as they are so stuck within their regional variants. Using physics modelling the study predicts the future of England’s language by comparing data from two existing surveys, the Survey of English dialect (SED) and English dialect app (EDA), to model dialect maps.
The SED interviewed older people back in the 1950s from rural locations to get an idea of the English dialect, whereas the EDA asked over 50,000 English speakers to answer questions through their smartphones using an app back in 2016 and all of the questions bar one duplicated the 1950s survey helping them to see how language has changed.
Dr James Burridge, from the University of Portsmouth, said: “We built a physics model, which accounted for people moving around their home location and sometimes going further afield – for instance for jobs or marriage – and we also accounted for how people learn language.
“We ran the model with correct population distributions and migration patterns in the 1900s and then rolled it forward to 2000.
“We then compared the model maps to the dialect maps and found that our modelling could predict how English language will evolve over the next 40 years or so.”
He continued: “In about 1900, almost everybody said ‘thawing’ pronounced ‘thaw-wing’, but the majority of people now pronounce the word ‘thawing’ with an intrusive ‘r’, which means it sounds like ‘thaw-ring’. Our model predicts this change happened over about 25 years.
“We found that the word has changed because it was tricky to pronounce and children are more likely to pick up the easier pronunciation. This then becomes the norm.
“However, it hasn’t changed everywhere yet because some major cities like Leeds and Manchester have rejected the change.”
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